Restrooms in the USA – My privacy just went down the toilet

I travel to the US every so often, and like any traveler to a different country I needed to learn the way and lay of the land.
You learn not to smile at immigration officers at US airports, you learn that New York is unlike any other part of the US, you learn how to shop at huge sprawling Outlet malls, you understand that a street in Dallas stands for an 8 lane highway, you quickly understand just how much bigger than Israel the US is, you get used to turning right on red (or not, depending on an obscure sign you need to look for), you realize it may be really dangerous to get out of your car when a traffic cop pulls you over, and other facts that are important or just downright lifesaving.

One other important item I learnt is that US toilets have this thing against privacy.

I know that sounds strange but think about it for a minute.

Take a careful look at the door on any US toilet stall, and there’s always this gap between the door and the frame. No, not a crack, or a small slip, a gap. One that we English are so worried about on the tube (e.g. underground), that we keep telling everyone to mind it on the platform.

Now granted this gap won’t kill you, but it certainly makes you downright uncomfortable.

I can be busy doing my business, while somebody else can easily decide to mind it.

Now obviously we expect everyone to respect each other’s privacy, but why leave it to chance. Why do I need to entrust my personal space and private parts in the hands of somebody else?

Now, if it was a technology issue – I’d say fine, let’s brainstorm the problem and think of a solution. But they seem to have solved this in the rest of the world. I don’t see these gaps in other countries. Come to think of it if German or Swiss toilets had these gaps the engineers would probably be fired for such inaccurate door measurements that fail to fit the door frames and show a total lack of regard for precision and craftsmanship.

Seeing these gaps also makes me wonder about the obvious goof in so many American movies. Most American movies that always have one of the main characters hiding in a toilet stall. The character even stands on the toilet bowl itself so he can avoid detection by the prying eyes that will look under the door. What’s that all about? Dude, just look through the gap!!! Everything’s in plain view.

So on behalf of all visitors to the US of A – please send your restroom engineers for some apprenticeship at their European counterparts. I for one, would really appreciate it.

About the Author
Yair Horovitz is just your average Israeli Hi-Tech family man, trying to balance work and life -- without much success so far.